Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?

Started Jul 1, 2013 | Discussions
adymitruk
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Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
Jul 1, 2013

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

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Cailean Gallimore
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 1, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

An exposure meter is the thing. Guesswork and rules often work, but an exposure meter is something you can really trust. They are also great learning devices. There's always one in my bag.

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SQLGuy
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to Cailean Gallimore, Jul 1, 2013

Each full F stop is half as much brightness, ideally. So, if sunny enough for 1/100th at ISO 100 and F16, exposure will also be good at 1/200th at F11, or 1/400 at F8, or 1/800th at F5.6, etc.

Similarly, it would be 1/800th at F8 and 200 ISO.

This works well for changes of shutter speed and aperture... however, it doesn't always work that well for changes of ISO, because camera manufacturers often lie (hrm... I mean, aren't that accurate) about their ISO.

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adymitruk
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to Cailean Gallimore, Jul 1, 2013

Cailean Gallimore wrote:

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

An exposure meter is the thing. Guesswork and rules often work, but an exposure meter is something you can really trust. They are also great learning devices. There's always one in my bag.

What's a good one to get? They seem expensive.

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nevada5
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 1, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

SLQGuy did a good job of explaining it.  It's the "Sunny 16" rule because f/16 is what works the equation (at f/16, shutter speed = 1/ISO on a sunny day)

But it doesn't imply that you should use f/16, only that you can extrapolate from there.  If you choose f/8 it's a two stop increase so your shutter speed needs to decrease by two stops (1/400).  Likewise f/5.6 is three stops, etc.

Experiment on a sunny day - it costs you nothing with digital.  Good luck.

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mike winslow
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 1, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

... who made that rule?

Sensors on cameras vary.. The histogram on the camera.. is a nice tool..

An external meter, why would this be better than the camera which has the ability to judge the exposure based on where you tell it to look?

Does an exposure meter reading need to be calibrated to your camera?

I found this: http://www.rawdigger.com/houtouse/lightmeter-calibration

It seems like allot of work, shoot a bracket, record raw+jpeg..  shoot over and underexposed, do this by varying speed, then aperture.

Try different white balance settings

See how close that you can get the different frames to look to each other in processing the image.

Then do the same thing - focus in front, focus in back.. get a sense of your field depth.. Does it match what you thought that you saw while taking the image.

See how it varies from lens to lens..

I have a ton of pictures of test charts, and my cats.  Then I take the camera out with me on my usual path with the usual objects and get familiar with how the sun and shadows play together..

There is so much to do without having an external gizmo,,

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wcdennis
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to mike winslow, Jul 2, 2013

The sunny 16 rule is a hold-over from the film days. It was a rough fall-back if your meter died. Using sunny 16 with a digital camera is like lighting your gas grille with a flint rock. Your built-in meter is as good or better than any hand-held and the histogram will reveal any errors it makes.

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SQLGuy
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to mike winslow, Jul 2, 2013

mike winslow wrote:

An external meter, why would this be better than the camera which has the ability to judge the exposure based on where you tell it to look?

Does an exposure meter reading need to be calibrated to your camera?

An external meter has the advantage of reading incident light, rather than reflected light. With an external meter you'll get correct exposure even if your subject is very dark or very light.

But, yes, some work will be needed to fine-tune the meter's idea of ISO to the camera's idea of it. The meter will probably be correct per the actual standard while many cameras are not.

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saintz
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to wcdennis, Jul 2, 2013

wcdennis wrote:

The sunny 16 rule is a hold-over from the film days. It was a rough fall-back if your meter died. Using sunny 16 with a digital camera is like lighting your gas grille with a flint rock. Your built-in meter is as good or better than any hand-held and the histogram will reveal any errors it makes.

This is so true. No one should be using these rules on digital (nor an external sensor). On mirrorless digital, the camera sensor is seeing exactly what's going on, and showing it to you live, and with a histogram. Use the tools you already have, they are the best for the job. Guess work is not needed when you have the answer right in front of you.

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boardsy
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 2, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

F16 isn't optimal, just a starting point for that rule, to be adjusted for different apertures. You are needlessly complicating your photography life with this.

Aperture priority 'A mode' is the simplest, fastest, most reliable in most light - set & forget EV at or around 0, set your aperture for the 'look' you want (shallow depth of field, or not, etc), and the camera almost instantly calculates shutter speed to expose to EV=0 (use higher ISO in low light to keep shutter speed up if necessary) - almost point & shoot!

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D Cox
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 2, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Cailean Gallimore wrote:

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

An exposure meter is the thing. Guesswork and rules often work, but an exposure meter is something you can really trust. They are also great learning devices. There's always one in my bag.

What's a good one to get? They seem expensive.

I can't see any point. Your camera is already an exposure meter. Just point it at the subject and see what exposure it suggests. You can walk up to the subject and take a close reading if you want, or zoom to a long setting to read from part of the scene.

The main advantage of a separate meter is that it can read incident light. You can also use an iPhone to do this:

http://www.camerasandfilm.com/archives/471

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mike winslow
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to boardsy, Jul 2, 2013

boardsy wrote:

adymitruk wrote:

Was just trying out the sunny 16 rule with the kit lens on the NEX 7. It was mid-day and no clouds. So ISO 100 with 1/100 sec exposure and aperture of 16 was used. I'm concerned that I'm way too closed down f16. What would be the exposure if I was to use f8 or f11 instead.

I'm also concerned that I'm losing detail at f16 due to defraction. How do you adjust the sunny 16 rule so that you can keep the aperture you want? Each f stop up you 1/2 the exposure time?

Also, I guess the sunny 16 rule is a rough estimate and needs to be adjusted for the time of year and your latitude on earth among other things...

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots. Bracketing at +-1 EV is what I've done just in case at times..

F16 isn't optimal, just a starting point for that rule, to be adjusted for different apertures. You are needlessly complicating your photography life with this.

Aperture priority 'A mode' is the simplest, fastest, most reliable in most light - set & forget EV at or around 0, set your aperture for the 'look' you want (shallow depth of field, or not, etc), and the camera almost instantly calculates shutter speed to expose to EV=0 (use higher ISO in low light to keep shutter speed up if necessary) - almost point & shoot!

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yeah.. I favor A mode too.. It's quick to control, and if you set your custom buttons up to keep metering, focus areas, and DDR in easy reach, it's a quick matter to take a test shot, hit the replay button, and review the histogram, go back to live, and either shoot or tweak.  The article which I posted earlier implies some complicated testing, but the concept of highlight headroom is good, and getting familiar with reading a histogram - priceless. Especially histogram by channel.

Adding an external meter might be a good idea if you know how it calibrates multiple cameras on the same shot, but it's another device to learn and to trust.  Before you can trust it, you have to learn it's viewpoint, and unless it takes a picture or keeps a record, then it's hard to correlate with results. The exif info of today's cameras best keeping handwritten logs by a longshot. To that extent, it wouldnt be a major overhaul to the camera software to let us put a custom exif mark in if the camera doesnt 'see' the lens, as with my collection of M42's..

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SQLGuy
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to mike winslow, Jul 2, 2013

The last three posts or so all ignore the fact that I mentioned earlier: the camera's meter reads reflected light.

The camera does not know (although it sometimes guesses correctly in iAuto) whether your subject is a bank of snow, or a small dark object on a bank of snow, or a black car, etc. It assumes your subject is 18% gray. The result, if you just follow what the camera's meter tell you, will be a gray bank of snow, or a gray black car. That's one of the reasons you have exposure compensation settings: you know whether your subject is darker or brighter than 18% gray, and have to compensate accordingly.

The Sunny 16 rule does account for incident light. It may not be the fastest, most accurate, or most convenient way to set exposure, but for subjects that are very different than 18% gray, it will often be quite a bit more accurate than the default exposure suggested by the camera. Knowing that rule, and why it's useful will make you a better photographer.

The histogram and clipping indicators are also useful, but you need to use them to ensure you're not losing much at the low or high end, not to guess the correct exposure by centering the graph (unless you want to correct the exposure in post to move the blacks back to black or the whites back to white).

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uhligfd
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to SQLGuy, Jul 2, 2013

The reason why the sunny 16 rule fails is its narrow interpretation: any exposure that is equivalent to 1/ISO sec and f.16 aperture in bright sunlight, will give the same exposure as the rule demands.

But f/16 is useful for tele lenses maybe, but then 1/100 sec is too long to stop camera shake blurr, so for tele shots it would be better to use higher ISo, say 200, f/11 and 1/400 sec for an equivalent exposure to the slavish f/16 at 1/100 sec rule at ISO 100.

And for a wide ankle lens there is no sense to go to f/16; f/5.6 or f/8 will give wide DOF, so at ISO 100, the exposure time in full sun should better be 'equivalent' to the simplest sunny rule at around 1/400 sec in case of using f/8.

A simple understanding of equivalent exposures is definitely needed here: one f stop smaller (less light, larger denominator) needs to be balanced by doubling the exposure time (longer exposure) and vice versa, of course.

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D Cox
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to SQLGuy, Jul 2, 2013

SQLGuy wrote:

The last three posts or so all ignore the fact that I mentioned earlier: the camera's meter reads reflected light.

The camera does not know (although it sometimes guesses correctly in iAuto) whether your subject is a bank of snow, or a small dark object on a bank of snow, or a black car, etc. It assumes your subject is 18% gray. The result, if you just follow what the camera's meter tell you, will be a gray bank of snow, or a gray black car. That's one of the reasons you have exposure compensation settings: you know whether your subject is darker or brighter than 18% gray, and have to compensate accordingly.

And a little experience will tell you when to use compensation. And if you shoot RAW, exposures which are a bit off can be easily corrected - which was not the case with positive film (slides).

The Sunny 16 rule does account for incident light. It may not be the fastest, most accurate, or most convenient way to set exposure, but for subjects that are very different than 18% gray, it will often be quite a bit more accurate than the default exposure suggested by the camera. Knowing that rule, and why it's useful will make you a better photographer.

The histogram and clipping indicators are also useful, but you need to use them to ensure you're not losing much at the low or high end, not to guess the correct exposure by centering the graph (unless you want to correct the exposure in post to move the blacks back to black or the whites back to white).

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nevada5
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to saintz, Jul 2, 2013

saintz wrote:

wcdennis wrote:

The sunny 16 rule is a hold-over from the film days. It was a rough fall-back if your meter died. Using sunny 16 with a digital camera is like lighting your gas grille with a flint rock. Your built-in meter is as good or better than any hand-held and the histogram will reveal any errors it makes.

This is so true. No one should be using these rules on digital (nor an external sensor). On mirrorless digital, the camera sensor is seeing exactly what's going on, and showing it to you live, and with a histogram. Use the tools you already have, they are the best for the job. Guess work is not needed when you have the answer right in front of you.

There's a worthwhile difference between just using a complicated tool and understanding what it's doing - and why.  The relationship between shutter speed/aperture/ISO is important for any serious photographer to understand.

SLQGuy mentioned in another post here what happens when your camera's meter is tricked (photographing snow is probably the most common.)

You can just fire away in the routine conditions, but when the scene is challenging you have an advantage if you understand exposure.

I encourage the OP to continue increasing his knowledge.

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Dennis
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The illusion of control
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 2, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots.

What do you view as "control" ?

Control is being able to get the exposure (focus, etc.) that you want in the way that you want it.

When it comes to exposure, you have a couple of things to control.  First, you have the aperture and shutter speed settings, which affect how much light hits the sensor.  Then you have the ISO setting which affects how bright the image is (in conjunction with the aperture and shutter speed and scene brightness).

So you want to be able to control those things.

Then you have the actual exposure value determined by the combination of those settings.  Are you going by a "rule of thumb" like Sunny f16 ?  Are you setting exposure for studio lights ?  Experimenting ?  Using an external meter ?  Or the camera's built in meter ?

If using the camera's built in meter, you want to be able to control the meter: the mode (matrix, spot, center-weighted), locking (zoom in, point it there, lock it, recompose), and a compensation factor.

Do you think an external meter gives you more control than the cameras meter ?  Do you think sunny f16 gives you more control than the spot meter with exposure compensation ?

Suppose you're using the built in meter.  The three exposure settings have to "combine" to get you to the metered exposure value.  So at 1/100s and ISO 100, you need to set f/16 on a sunny day.  What if it's a rainy day and you decide to use the meter.  You set the ISO, you set the aperture, and now you have to dial the shutter speed until the meter tells you you're right.  You could save yourself the trouble by using S mode and letting the camera set the shutter speed.  You're going to get the same result.  Do you feel you've given up control by using the camera to make a calculation and set something faster than you would have done it, even though you would have done what the camera told you to ?

My point is this: Don't be lulled into the myth that M mode gives you more control.  M mode is an absolute necessity at times.  But if you don't have a good reason for ignoring the built in meter, then it can be a powerful tool, and you can have all the control you need using the simplest of automation (letting the camera made a dumb calculation instead of playing the match needle game).

- Dennis

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to SQLGuy, Jul 3, 2013

Give up, SQLGuy.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. For 45 bucks you can buy a used Gossen Luna-Pro or one of those new Chinese digital ones for under $30.

But then, they couldn't come on the forum with incorrectly exposed images and telling us how crappy this lens or that is.

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mike winslow
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to SQLGuy, Jul 3, 2013

SQLGuy wrote:

The last three posts or so all ignore the fact that I mentioned earlier: the camera's meter reads reflected light.

I'm not going to disagree with anything, but the above.  The camera reads differently by where you tell it to look. I can see where it is looking in the viewfinder..  After that I have to trust Sony.  But I have a good idea where it's looking. I get good exposure. I worry more about composition than exposure, for the most part, but am aware when I have to take control.  When you discuss a lightmeter, I think of the analog one that my grandfather had.. Just a single dial meter, and some scales..  Maybe you have something better, but unless it has a viewfinder on it, then you are shooting from the hip, as to what light that it's seeing.

Also - reflected light - it's all around us... Photons leave a light source and may or may not be polarized, but light waves reflected change polarity.  What does this have to do with exposure? And my camera will also read light when I point it at a light bulb where there are no reflectors.. try it, it really sees it. I'm assuming that you really meant something more subtle here..

I'm OK with the rest..

The camera does not know (although it sometimes guesses correctly in iAuto) whether your subject is a bank of snow, or a small dark object on a bank of snow, or a black car, etc. It assumes your subject is 18% gray. The result, if you just follow what the camera's meter tell you, will be a gray bank of snow, or a gray black car. That's one of the reasons you have exposure compensation settings: you know whether your subject is darker or brighter than 18% gray, and have to compensate accordingly.

The Sunny 16 rule does account for incident light. It may not be the fastest, most accurate, or most convenient way to set exposure, but for subjects that are very different than 18% gray, it will often be quite a bit more accurate than the default exposure suggested by the camera. Knowing that rule, and why it's useful will make you a better photographer.

The histogram and clipping indicators are also useful, but you need to use them to ensure you're not losing much at the low or high end, not to guess the correct exposure by centering the graph (unless you want to correct the exposure in post to move the blacks back to black or the whites back to white).

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wcdennis
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Re: The illusion of control
In reply to Dennis, Jul 3, 2013

Correct exposure preserves as much of the dynamic range in a scene as possible (and checking the histogram is the best way to achieve this goal). Adjusting for the extremes may leave the middle values looking too light or dark without post processing. So if your goal is to make photos that don't require post adjustment, then no doubt, an incident meter will nail the exposure more often than the camera meter, but it might do it at the cost of clipped highlights.

I will agree that a hand-held meter is the best way to learn exposure, so I'm all in favor of that.

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